Disasters and Mercy

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”~~Aesop

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is bonhomie, “frank and simple good-heartedness; a good-natured manner; friendliness; geniality.” We could all do with a bit more bonhomie in our lives.

Today is Candy Cane Day. Isn’t that the fake CB name that the kids in Joyride came up with, that caused the truck driver to terrorize them?

We had a wonderful Christmas Day! After finishing up everything yesterday morning, we got packed and headed to Mineral Wells. We unloaded all the food and gifts into Mama’s house, and had lunch soon after. When we were all full from the delicious food, we moved over to the living area to exchange our gifts. Mama was very happy with the Keurig that we got for her, along with three boxes of coffee, and a carousel pod holder for the K-cups. We also got her an 8X10 of the photo of her and Uncle Buddy, from her trip to Marshall last week. CVS did a great job of copying and printing that picture, and it was quite inexpensive.

After sitting for a while, we went to the hotel to check in. Unfortunately, the elevator is broken and we are on the second floor. The had a room on the first floor, but it did not have a sofa bed for Stephanie. We took a short nap and then went back over to Mama’s for dessert and more visiting. Around 9:00PM, we headed back to the hotel, trying to stop at Jack in the Box for something to take back with us, but the drive-thru line wrapped all the way around the building. It was that way when we went back to Mama’s, as well, since they were almost the only place open. We had noticed, earlier, that Burger King was open, so we gave up on Jack and headed to the King, which was in the same direction as the hotel, anyway. We got some small burgers and fries and brought them back with us.

We got a good night’s sleep, and got up just in time to take advantage of the complimentary breakfast. After I finish this and take a shower, we will be heading back over to the house, and then, eventually, downtown, where we will visit Jitterbeans Coffee Shop, where I will have another delicious cup of Aztec Spice Hot Chocolate. We have nothing else planned for today.

On this date in:

1776–The British were defeated at the Battle of Trenton. Remember George Washington crossing the Delaware yesterday?
1799–4000 people attended George Washington’s funeral
1846–“Trapped in snow in the Sierra Nevadas and without food, members of the Donner Party resort to cannibalism.”
1871–Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated for the first time in an opera called Thespis. It would be four years before they would work together again.
1898–Marie and Pierre Curie announced the isolation of radium
1919–Harry Frazee, owner of the Boston Red Sox, sold Babe Ruth to the Evil Empire
1933–FM radio was patented
1941–President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill that established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day
1986–The soap opera, Search for Tomorrow, aired its final episode, after being on the air 35 years
1996–JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home

Today’s birthdays include:

1791–Charles Babbage, English mathematician and inventor
1891–Henry Miller, American writer
1914–Richard Widmark, American actor
1921–Steve Allen, American comedian
1947–Carlton Fisk, American baseball player
1954–Ozzie Smith, American baseball player
1963–Lars Ulrich, Danish drummer and Napster-killer, Metallica
1979–Chris Daughtry, American singer

Carlton Fisk is a retired MLB catcher who played for the Boston Red Sox. In the 1975 World Series, Game Six, he hit this walkoff home run to win the game and force Game Seven. Even though the Sox lost the series, I still believe this to be the best World Series ever, at least in my lifetime. Game Six is definitely regarded to be one of the most exciting World Series games in history.

Melvil Dewey, Harry S. Truman, Jack Benny, Dian Fossey, Curtis Mayfield, Jason Robards, Armand Zildjian, and Gerald Ford are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is a difficult one, called, “How to Contemplate Calamity.”

John Piper begins with the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2005. As I looked at historical events on this date, I was somewhat taken aback at the number of calamities that occurred on December 26. The Donner Party, the discovery of JonBenet Ramsey’s body (even though she probably died on Christmas Day), multiple earthquakes, Babe Ruth being sold to the Yankees . . . Okay, that last one might not really count as a calamity, and I certainly am not comparing it to cannibalism, murder, and earthquake/tsunamis.

But what is the point of all of this? When Job learned of the deaths of all of his children, due to a natural disaster, his response, recorded in Job 1:21, was “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” As he contemplates the earthquake/tsunami from 2005, Piper offers several points.

1. “Satan is not ultimate, God is.”

In the case of Job, Satan only had as much authority as God would allow. “God gave Satan permission to afflict Job.” But God is seen as the decisive cause. Many people struggle with this thought and completely reject the idea that God could ever cause affliction. I believe that these people don’t truly understand Scripture. I know that’s a bold statement, but I believe that Scripture is pretty clear about this. The writer of Job, at the end, says, And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. (42:11) “Satan is real. Satan brings misery. But Satan is not ultimate or decisive. He is on a leash. He goes no farther than God decisively permits.”

2. “Even if Satan caused the earthquake in the Indian Ocean the day after Christmas, he is not the decisive cause of over 200,000 deaths; God is.”

In Job 38:8-11, God proclaims that he has authority over the seas (including tsunamis) when he says, “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” We saw Jesus, in Luke 8:24, rebuke the wind and the waves in the sea, showing ultimate control over nature. ” In other words, even if Satan caused the earthquake, God could have stopped the waves.”

3. “Destructive calamities in this world mingle judgment and mercy.”

There is nothing simple about thinking about natural disasters. There is no easy answer. But we know from Scripture that God was not punishing Job. What came upon him was meant to be purifying. However, we do not know the spiritual condition of Job’s children. Job had his own doubts about them, even offering sacrifices on their behalf in case they had committed some sins. It is possible that the calamity that struck them was judgment. If that is the case, then the same calamity that brought judgment on Job’s children was mingled with mercy for Job. This, Piper says, is true of all calamities. They mingle both judgment and mercy.

The clearest illustration of this is Christ and the cross. The cross of Jesus was both judgment and mercy. It was judgment on Jesus because he bore our sins. It was mercy on us, because someone else was bearing the punishment of our sins on our behalf. As another example, Piper cites the curse on the earth. It is seen as judgment to those who do not believe in Christ, but for us who believe, it is considered “merciful, though painful, preparation for glory.”

4. “The heart that Christ gives to his people feels compassion for those who suffer, no matter what their faith.”

This is where we tend to fail on a magnificent level. The Bible tells us, in Romans 12:15, to “Weep with those who weep.” Note that it does not say, “Unless God caused the weeping.” Piper astutely says, “Job’s comforters would have done better to weep with Job than talk so much.” Unfortunately, we are way too much like Job’s “comforters.” We tend to try to explain to people why these bad things are happening to them, instead of simply weeping for them over their misfortune, pain, loss, or sickness. “Pain is pain, no matter who causes it.” All have sinned; we are all in this together.

5. “Finally, Christ calls us to show mercy to those who suffer, even if they do not deserve it.”

This is a much-needed message in the political climate of our nation today. We have Christians refusing to consider offering aid and refuge to people of certain races because they might be terrorists. I thank God that He does not operate this way! If he did, none of us would be saved, because we are all sinners. . . . but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God did not wait for us to stop sinning or prove that we could maybe sin just a bit less before showing love and mercy to us. The meaning of mercy is “undeserved help.” We are told by our Savior to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Father, teach us mercy. When we experience calamity, teach us empathy and compassion, even toward those whom we might feel don’t deserve it. Make us more like Christ. Teach us mercy.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.